Once, more than 80% New Zealand was blanketed in vast, ancient forests – with species unique in the world. Deforestation began with the arrival of the first Maori (circa 1250-1300AD) but spread rapidly from 1840 with European settlers. Today less than a quarter of New Zealand is covered in native forest. Waiheke Island’s own forests were extensively felled as land was cleared for farming.
Walk through the sub-tropical rainforest at EcoZip Adventures and step back in time.
Our site is dominated by majestic Podocarp trees. Ancestors of these ancient giants have stood here since New Zealand was part of the super continent of Gondwana. Walking through our forest today, you’ll gain a sense of how things were.
But it wasn’t like that when we first discovered the site. Having been abandoned for years, our forest – now a Site of Environmental Significance – was overrun with invasive weeds choking it from forest-floor to canopy. And introduced predators, like rats and stoats, had decimated the once abundant native birds and wildlife.
We believe conservation and commercialism can work together, and so decided to use our business to drive conservation. The massive job to restore the site and rebalance its ecology started in 2012, with weed eradication, pest control and forest rehabilitation, supported by income from EcoZip Adventures. Thousands of hours have been invested by our guides, who’ve thrown themselves in to these projects with unbridled enthusiasm, and by specialist contractors.
Today the weeds are gone, thousands of native trees have been planted and predators are well under control. Our forest, once silent, now rings with birdsong. Its biodiversity has improved 100-fold and EcoZip visitors, to their delight, routinely encounter native birds and reptiles. Our efforts were first recognised in 2014 with a Qualmark Silver Enviro Award; more recently, in July 2017, we were endowed with the coveted Qualmark Gold award.
This environmental success wouldn’t be possible without our visitors. By simply having an EcoZip experience, you’re making a real difference. A percentage of all income from EcoZip Adventures is set aside to fund our environmental and conservation programmes. So when you whistle down our cables, you’re not just having fun (though we think you will). You’re helping to restore and protect New Zealand’s environmental and cultural history.